You Saw Who At the Strip Club?

by Darrell Brazell     New Hope For Sexual Integrity

“Tom” had attended our men’s groups off and on for about three years. When he first came, he couldn’t even talk in the small check-in groups, let alone speak up in the large-group time.

He had struggled with sexual addiction for many years. He was finally beginning to make some progress and attend group regularly when he had a huge crash. One night when he was very discouraged, he went back to something he had done many years earlier:  He went to a strip club.

Tom found the clubs to be even more intoxicating than in the past. He purchased many lap dances and experienced the physical touch and counterfeit joy of conversations with young women who were attractive and “friendly” to him.

While powerfully intoxicating in the moment, these experiences left him in great pain and filled with deep shame. In his shame, he found himself returning to the club occasionally and at one point having thoughts of suicide. He had also started meeting regularly with me for a counseling process called the Immanuel Process.

Immanuel Prayer[i] comes from Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  In its most basic form, Immanuel Prayer is simply asking Jesus to show us where He was during certain painful experiences.  Many times individuals will get words or images in their memories. It helps them see that Jesus was really with them during this horrible time.

Tom had found a very sweet place with Jesus in our previous session so I encouraged him to remember it.  Next, I told him to ask Jesus where He wanted him to go today. I saw him physically tense up as he said, “I am getting an image from the strip club.” My first thought was that Satan was trying to distract him or bring shame, so I prayed and then had him ask Jesus again where He wanted him to go.

His response was, “I’m still in the strip club with the young woman who was nice to me.” While I was somewhat surprised, I hesitantly asked, “Do you see Jesus anywhere?”

Immediately Tom perked up a little and said in a surprised tone, “Yeah, He is right there, just above her.”

“Is He upset or angry with you?” I asked.

“No, He seems sad, but still glad to be with me.” The only thing I could think of was to have him ask Jesus questions. I instructed him to ask if there was anything Jesus wanted to say to him. Immediately a tear trickled down Tom’s face as he replied: “Jesus said, ‘I know you are here because your pain is great. However, what you need is not her, but Me.’”

Tom felt heard and understood. He knew Jesus saw his sin and his pain but did not condemn him; instead He offered the solution for his sin. The solution, of course, was learning that Tom’s deepest need was not sexual nor the touch of a woman, but Jesus Himself.

That was about a year ago, and Tom has not been back to a strip club.  He has had only one momentary slip in his recovery since Jesus met him there. He continues to find Jesus in new places, and his continued change is evident to everyone who knows him.

Every time I meet with him, I see new strength, confidence, and growth. He now speaks freely in our small groups, and what he shares in the big-group time has become an encouragement to many. It is important to note that he has also been faithful in other recovery behaviors. He works on materials, calls men from the groups, and attends multiple meetings every week.

[i] For further information on the Immanuel Process go to the Books and Resources section: Lehman, Dr. Karl. THE IMMANUEL PROCESS (